Home OPINION ABOVE THE BELT While we endure arctic blast, spy ballon is shot down

While we endure arctic blast, spy ballon is shot down

While we endure arctic blast, spy ballon is shot down

By Alex P. Vidal

“In the Chinese view, the United States has designed its own system of rules about what constitutes ‘legal’ spying and what is illegal.”— David E. Sanger

I MONITORED basically two major stories in the United States over the weekend: the record-breaking arctic blast and the shooting down of a suspected Chinese spy ballon.

While we were on red alert in the Northeast on February 4 (US time) due to dangerously cold temperatures and wind chills, Pentagon announced the US military decided to shoot down the Chinese spy balloon after it drifted off the East Coast near the Carolinas.

When it was first reported that the US military “would not” shoot it down to prevent its debris from posing a danger to people on the ground, I thought it wasn’t still news.

Later before nighttime when Pentagon confirmed the US military has shot down the unwanted visitor in the US skies, I thought it was time to treat it as news; in fact, a major news since it occupied the bulk of reports dispatched in the prime time in most major media networks in the United States.

But this story wasn’t the one that made us worry since Friday (the Chinese spy ballon became a “breaking” news Saturday morning).

It wasn’t a Red Alert event unlike the arctic blasts which shattered records throughout the Northeast, most notably on Mount Washington, New Hampshire, where the actual temperature dropped to -46 degrees, with a wind chill of -108.

That was  likely the lowest wind chill ever recorded in the United States.

Records were also reportedly broken in numerous cities in our region, including Bridgeport, Connecticut, where the mercury dipped to -4, according to CBS New York.


In Central Park, New York City, the dip saw a low of 3 degrees Saturday morning, which was not only the lowest temperature so far this winter, but reportedly the lowest temperature since 2019.

The cold was in the process of retreating, and Saturday night (as I wrote this article) featured rising temperatures and increasing clouds. A forecast low of 24 was expected to occur in the late evening.

Temperature was expected to rebound very nicely into the mid-and upper 40s for February 5, Sunday, which would almost feel reportedly like a heatwave after what we endured for the past 24 hours.

We were expecting a mix of sun and clouds, with a steady breeze developing in February 5, Sunday, afternoon.

From where I was holed up while preparing for the record-breaking wind chill that started on February 3, Friday, I relied on “Amazon Alexa” or simple “Alexa” for fast weather updates. “Alexa, what’s the latest weather in New York City today?” I asked the virtual assistant technology on my phone app from time to time.

Alexa gave me accurate weather updates, enough to make me feel “relax” and “comfortable” while inside a 47-story apartment in the East Lower Manhattan.


LET’S PLANT A TREE. Let us give up 10 square feet of our land by planting a tree. Trees soak up carbon dioxide and help keep the atmosphere clean. If we don’t have the space, let’s use a pot on a balcony or near a window.

BRUSH IT UP. Let’s not throw away our old toothbrush; let’s use it to clean tricky-to-reach areas like the caulking between floor and wall tiles and the area around bathroom faucets. Often a little more elbow grease will do the trick without resorting to harsh cleaners.

PLAY BALL. When our running shoes are worn beyond use, let’s not throw them away. Because of their high rubber content and the fact that rubber is easily recyclable, old sneakers are now being used to make new sports surfaces. Nike is one brand that operates this function by producing its Nike Grind material… The wingspan of a Boeing 747 jet is longer than the Wright Brothers’ first flight… Confidence is that feeling by which the mind embarks in great and honorable course with a sure hope and trust in itself. If we don’t have one, we can never take off in whatever endeavor we pursue in life…The world kissing record was set in 1990 by Alfred Wolfram. He kissed 8,001 women in 8 hours. That equates to kissing a different woman every six seconds!

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo.—Ed)